A bad program done regularly is a lot more effective than a great program done occasionally. Schedule your training sessions as you would any other commitment that’s important to you. At the end of the day, you know if you skipped out, so don’t let yourself down. Failure to plan is planning to fail, so hold yourself to a higher standard than most and don’t consider your training to be something that you do sometimes, it’s a regular part of your life. Being a wrestler consists of doing what others won’t, and that might mean getting up early to train before school, hitting a Saturday session when everyone else is still in bed, or packing your own lunch so you don’t eat the slop your school offers in the cafeteria, but in the end, you’ll be better for it
Most people you see in the gym “train” only what they can see in the mirror or what they like. Balance means making sure no quality falls below a baseline level, regardless of the particular goal you’re chasing in a phase and you have to make sure to even out your development. This will not only help out for aesthetic reasons, but also to help avoid overuse injuries and improve performance. If you’re going to do 5 sets of benching, then you better do 5 sets of some kind of rowing to keep your shoulders healthy and give you a big platform to press from. If you want to go through a phase where you’re focusing on pure strength and hitting lots of heavy doubles and singles, then you better balance out your program with some prehab stuff to keep your joints healthy. If you push, pull an equal amount, and be sure to do both hip and knee dominant lower body work.
You can’t run before you walk, and you can’t be afraid to back an exercise up a notch in order to make it a little easier if you aren’t ready for it yet. Conversely, if something is too easy, then it needs to be progressed in order to improve. A simple example would be a pushup. If you can’t perform a pushup properly, then maybe you have to elevate your hands on a bench to make it a little easier, or if you can bang out a shitload of pushups on the floor, you need to elevate your feet to make them harder.
There are going to be a lot more similarities between good training programs than differences, regardless of the population, but when it comes down to the details, you have to tweak them to specifically meet your needs. A hockey player isn’t going to have the same conditioning requirements of a discus thrower, so things like that need to be taken into consideration. Some sports have a higher prevalence of certain overuse injuries, so maybe extra mobility drills are necessary for that population. If you’re looking to lose fat, your nutritional requirements will be different than the off season football player looking to add mass. Long story short, a one size fits all approach across all populations isn’t going to cut it, but each person’s programs should be based on the same principles.
Doing the same exercises all the time, even when making gains, can lead to overuse injuries and get boring, so things need to be routinely, yet strategically switched up. This doesn’t mean hopping from one program to another (that’s a quick way to not make progress at all) but rather a subtle switch from maybe incline pressing to incline pushups, or altering the loads, sets, and reps. It might mean taking a few weeks away from the heavy squatting and focusing instead on some circuit based strength training, but the point is, it’s to be used to recharge you mentally, keep you physically healthy, and keep you making progress.
Is the shit you’re doing even working? Honestly, have you gotten stronger, leaner, faster, insert whatever goal you’re working to improve? If yes, then what is it that has changed to cause this progress? If not, what have you done differently that has stalled progress? If you don’t constantly evaluate, then how do you know whether you’re spinning your wheels or what is working for you? Have patience, have a solid plan based on these principles, believe in the process, and don’t cheat yourself. Then, and only then, can you honestly evaluate to see what the next step is for you.
Perform an audit of what you’re currently doing in the gym and find out if what you’re doing aligns with the principles that are broken down here. Maybe some is, and if so, great, adjust the rest so that it does as well. The bottom line is, don’t throw shit against the wall and see what sticks-have a long term plan of attack that sets you up for success, and these rules will provide the framework for just that.
Until next time, keep training with purpose!